I’m a Mariner Marauder, not a thug
As graduation inches closer, I’ve been able to dispel plenty of myths about high school. There were no food fights, freshmen were never stuffed into lockers and – despite what is shown on TV – the teacher, not the bell, dismisses a class.
However, there remains one myth that specifically pertains to my high school that needs to be clarified because Mariner High School is, and always will be, an amazing school.
Recently I was blessed with the opportunity to say those words in front of some of the top members of the Mukilteo School District. At a student forum, when asked if there was an aspect of the school district that should receive less attention, the answer was simple: Mariner’s reputation.
From the time Mariner students are freshmen until they receive their diplomas, they receive a constant reminder of how Mariner is perceived by the outside community. Plenty of people from the community have this idea that we’re thugs, prospective gangsters and gangbangers. There’s this notion that Mariner students are unintelligent, lack potential and will stumble through life, never having a true impact on society.
That is a lie. In fact I, an actual Mariner student, experience the exact opposite each day.
In my school, the students are gifted. We have talents in all areas ranging from mathematics and sciences to humanities. I’ve heard the voices of amazing singers. I’ve been entertained by up-and-coming actors, and moved by the words and pictures of eloquent writers and creative artists.
Our school is involved in the community. Earlier this year, we shattered our canned food drive record, providing the community with more than 7,000 nonperishable items for the holidays.
Mariner’s academic success has recently led to the school being crowned a 2011 School of Distinction. The school was also the recipient of a Washington Achievement Award.
We have Division I caliber athletes, Ivy League students and world-class teachers who take time out of their lives to provide us with a learning environment we can succeed in.
Yet, despite all the positive aspects, Mariner continues to face undue judgment. The school’s flaws are highlighted, while its positive qualities are ignored. It’s difficult to find the recognition that the school’s good qualities deserve, yet if one of our students gets in trouble, their failure is quickly shared for public scrutiny. The end result is always the same, as the whole school is mislabeled.
Students at Mariner have had enough. We are tired of defending our name. We are sick of being seen as ghetto and classless when our actions prove otherwise.
The majority of people who speak ill of Mariner are people who never step foot inside the high school. So here is my request to the community: Don’t try to define us. We define ourselves.
This isn’t to say Mariner is perfect. No school is. However, as a community, we have to stop bashing this side of the school district.
When someone speaks poorly of Mariner, they’re speaking poorly about 2,000 students they’ve never met. These are 2,000 students who, if anything, are just going to school each day to make something out of life. It is disgraceful of anyone in the community to insult those 2,000 students.
We understand there’s an evident economic gap between the students at Kamiak High School and Mariner. However, don’t overlook the fact that, despite whatever troubles Mariner students face at home, they still have the strength to come to school each day.
Those same students still have dreams. Those students still enroll in challenging classes, participate in clubs and activities, achieve exceptional grades, only to go back home to those same problems.
We have students who experience foreclosures, bankruptcies and single-parent households, yet still are accepted to the nation’s most prestigious universities.
The strength of Mariner students should be applauded. Yet, even with the natural trials we face, our own community has the unmitigated gall to tell us who we are.
Praise us, don’t shame us.
Personally, I’ll never forget my time as a Mariner Marauder. It was Mariner that gave life to the hope that I could be daring enough to pursue a career as a journalist. My time at Mariner has molded me into the young man I am today.
No matter where I go in life, I will always be from Mariner, never a thug and never losing my Marauder pride.
LaVendrick Smith is an intern for The Mukilteo Beacon.